‘Extremely offensive’: Neo-Nazi group distributes propaganda in Davenport again

White supremacist propaganda is being tossed onto people’s front lawns in Davenport again, a Davenport resident told Little Village on Monday. And once again, the propaganda from the neo-Nazi National Alliance is in the former of large sticker that are wrapped around old copies of Little Village, placed in clear plastic bags and thrown onto lawns and driveways in the early hours of the morning when there are no witnesses present.

“I’ve just found them on doorsteps,” the person who phoned Little Village early Monday morning said. He called the “very racist messaging” of the oversized stickers “extremely offensive.”

It should go without saying that Little Village has no connection with the National Alliance, beyond reporting on the hate group. This isn’t the first time the National Alliance used copies of Little Village or other magazines that are distributed for free to add heft to their fliers and stickers so that they can be tossed onto lawns and driveways. It’s been happening since January 2018.

National Alliance fliers distributed on Iowa City’s westside, June 1, 2020.

The last time this sort of incident was reported was in January. It was also in Davenport, but instead of stickers, racist flyers were wrapped around old copies of Little Village. The flyers were the same type used the first time the National Alliance distributed in Iowa City’s Wetherby Park neighborhood in January 2018. On that occasion, the flyers were wrapped around copies of the Davenport-based River City Reader, a free monthly newspaper.

Two weeks after the Wetherby Park incident in 2018, a man was arrested in Davenport as he was putting those same flyers on cars at a high school sports facility. James Lee Mathias, a resident of Davenport in his 50s, wasn’t arrested for distributing the flyers — the National Alliance’s message is repulsive, but isn’t illegal — but because he was carrying a gun on school property.

There have been at least 16 other incidents of the National Alliance using free newspapers and magazines to distribute their racist propaganda in eastern Iowa since the first time they littered the Wetherby Park neighborhood with it. Last year, there was even an attempt to disguise some of the racist messages as COVID-19 prevention advice.

Whoever is distributing the National Alliance material in eastern Iowa always chooses publications that can be picked up for free from public locations. It’s an indication of the threadbare status of the National Alliance.

The white supremacist group was founded in West Virginia in 1970. Explicitly racist and anti-Semitic, it has repeatedly called for the elimination of both Jews and racial minorities in America, and the establishment of an all-white homeland.

The National Alliance has lost most of its members since its founder died in 2002. Further disputes over the group’s finances and leadership fights have rendered the NA “almost irrelevant” among far-right organizations. In September 2019, when National Alliance members helped organize a pro-Trump rally in Dahlonega, Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it “a mostly defunct white supremacist group with deeply anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant beliefs.”

The NA is now largely a mail-order and online retailer selling white supremacist books and related paraphernalia — including stickers — to the adherents it still has.

White supremacist flyer that was delivered to homes in the Wetherby Park on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2017. — Jordan Sellergren/Little Village

Although the NA itself is increasingly inconsequential, others are also distributing white supremacist propaganda around the country. According to the Center on Extremism of the Anti-Defamation League, there was “a near-doubling of white supremacist propaganda efforts in 2020” compared to 2019.

“The 2020 data shows a huge increase of incidents from the previous year, with a total of 5,125 cases reported (averaging more than 14 incidents per day), compared to 2,724 in 2019,” according to the Center. “This is the highest number of white supremacist propaganda incidents ADL has ever recorded.”

The ADL found at least 30 groups were involved in spreading the white supremacist propaganda it documented in 2020, and three of those groups were responsible for 92 percent of the incidents. The National Alliance was not one of those three. The most active distributor of the racist propaganda was the Texas-based Patriot Front.

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